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Definition of Fatigue.

Calathea

Senior Member
Messages
1,261
No one with CFS or ME would describe themselves as having chronic fatigue.

Do you mean as an illness description, or as a symptom description? Because as an illness description, yes, fully agreed, I think we're all aware that "chronic fatigue" as a diagnosis is like "chronic headache", just a description of an ongoing symptom, and not remotely the same as ME or CFS. But the actual symptom of chronic fatigue is a key part of having ME/CFS, so in that sense, yes, of course I would describe myself as having chronic fatigue, just as I would describe myself as having chronic pain and chronic GI problems. I've seen a few people saying things like, "ME is not about fatigue," or, "fatigue isn't the problem when you have ME," and I have always been utterly confused by them. Fatigue alone isn't the problem, absolutely, but it's the primary symptom, so how can you have ME without fatigue?
 

Jenny

Senior Member
Messages
1,388
Location
Dorset
Do you mean as an illness description, or as a symptom description? Because as an illness description, yes, fully agreed, I think we're all aware that "chronic fatigue" as a diagnosis is like "chronic headache", just a description of an ongoing symptom, and not remotely the same as ME or CFS. But the actual symptom of chronic fatigue is a key part of having ME/CFS, so in that sense, yes, of course I would describe myself as having chronic fatigue, just as I would describe myself as having chronic pain and chronic GI problems. I've seen a few people saying things like, "ME is not about fatigue," or, "fatigue isn't the problem when you have ME," and I have always been utterly confused by them. Fatigue alone isn't the problem, absolutely, but it's the primary symptom, so how can you have ME without fatigue?

My experience is that most of the time I feel profound weakness and exhaustion. Sometimes I can only walk a few steps. I would never describe this as 'fatigue'. And there are rare occasions when energy is not a problem, but muscular and joint pain predominate.
 

Jenny

Senior Member
Messages
1,388
Location
Dorset
Weakness and exhaustion sound like fatigue to me. Do you mean that they are so much worse than what is usually meant by "fatigue" that it seems an inappropriate word to use, like saying "headache" for "migraine"? I think of it as more of a spectrum, I suppose.

Yes, I guess that's what I mean. My dictionary gives 'weariness' as a synonym for 'fatigue' - to me both these terms suggest just feeling rather tired. What I (and I imagine many others) experience is much more severe. Sometimes even picking up a book is too much.
 

Purple

Bundle of purpliness
Messages
489
Weakness (e.g. muscle weakness) is different from fatigue, even medically. But it's possible to suffer both weakness and fatigue, or even just weakness without fatigue... or fatigue without weakness. I think in PEM/PENE, it's possible to suffer both, it just depends on each person which is more prominent or overwhelming.
 

Calathea

Senior Member
Messages
1,261
"Weariness" definitely sounds too mild to cover us, I agree. It's odd how perceptions of words vary. "Fatigue" does cover the whole spectrum for me. And let's face it, as far as I know there are no words which really do cover the severity of what we feel, so even "exhaustion" doesn't do it, because what most healthy people will regard as "exhausted" is our idea of "doing incredibly well today".

I know that PEM is the cardinal symptom of ME, and in particular what distinguishes it from other conditions, but I don't think it's synonymous with fatigue. PEM is what you get after exertion, so this implies that it is something episodic. Whereas the fatigue is pretty much permanent, it just fluctuates. Or perhaps it's more that PEM is something that has a direct relationship to an event, it's a reaction to something, whereas fatigue is a simpler description of a symptom without going into the complexities of its cause. Anyway, not quite the same.